Hinds County judicial system assessments - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Feds assessing effectiveness of Hinds County judicial system


Our investigation into the Hinds County judicial system continues tonight. Is the system broken, or is it on point? Right now the National Institute of Corrections, a federal agency, is on the ground in Hinds County assessing the effectiveness of the judicial system.

In recent days we've told you about the backlog of detainees sitting inside the Hinds County Detention Center waiting for their day in court, and documents that reveal detainees that have been locked up for as long as seven and eight years, waiting for justice to be served.

"Without speaking for Sheriff Lewis, I will say, the system needs repair," said Dana Sims, in-house council for the Hinds County Sheriff's Office.

Sims says one year ago Sheriff Tyrone Lewis requested the federal agency to come to Hinds County and assess the judicial system.

"A person does a crime, they get punished, they go to jail for the right amount of time and they are adjudicated," says Sims. "Once they are adjudicated they are sentenced and sent on. So, in order to make sure this process flows better in Hinds County he asked for the assistance of the National Institute of Corrections."

Two criminal justice consultants are looking at every aspect of the judicial system this week. The consultants are speaking to every stakeholder involved in the system to see what, if anything, needs to be fixed.

"Coming from the outside, we can look at it from a birds eye view and recognize areas where there could be opportunities for change and improvements," said Tara Boh Klute.

The two consultants have extensive backgrounds in judicial systems by making them more effective and cost efficient.

NIC was assessing the Hinds County judicial system back in 2001 and found a number of recommendations to implement within all departments.

"To my understanding, none of the suggestions recommended in that report were instituted," said Sims.

NIC's assessments are funded solely by grants. Findings will be released Thursday in front of all stakeholders.

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